Olivia Harvey
Updated Jan 31, 2018 @ 7:45 pm
Image of Mall of America sign in Minnesota
Credit: Getty Images / Owen Franken

Those who were lucky enough to snag a ticket to Sunday’s Super Bowl 52 are probably headed to Minnesota right about now to prep for the big game. The New England Patriots and the Philadelphia Eagles will face off at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis come Sunday afternoon. If you’re in the area and looking to see some Minnesota sights before kick off, we have a few activity suggestions.

If you’re down to take a road trip or if you’re driving into Minnesota, you may be interested in hitting all the quirky sculpture landmarks across the state. Minnesota is home to the World’s Largest Loon (located in Vergas, MN), Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox (located in Bemidji, MN), the Big Ole Viking Statue (located in Alexandria, MN), and Buffy the Cow (located in Austin, MN).

However, if you’d rather stay local to Minneapolis, we found some family-friendly things to do in the city and its surrounding towns. There’s so much to do in the area, we guarantee you’ll never get bored during your trip.

The Super Bowl may be the highlight of your Minnesota adventure. But hey, if your team loses, then at least you can say you had a bunch of fun beforehand!

1. Mall of America

Only about a 15-minute drive outside of Minneapolis is the famed Mall of America in Bloomington, MN. Officially the largest mall in the United States, the Mall of America offers a wide variety of shopping, dining, and entertainment opportunities for visitors.

The Mall of America is home to Nickelodeon Universe, America’s largest indoor theme park including a set of “spine-tingling rides,” as the website states. You can also check out SEA LIFE Aquarium at the mall where you can get up close and personal with over 1,000 aquatic species.

The Crayola Experience & Store and the LEGO Store will let your inner chid run wild. And if you love virtual reality, then you have to stop by SMAAASH and FlyOver America. Both will make you question if you’re actually living in the real world.

2. Minneapolis Institute of Art

Right in the heart of Minneapolis, the Minneapolis Institute of Art (MIA) is home to over 80,000 works of art — some created 4,000 years ago. Right now the MIA is hosting two George Morrison exhibits, a Kenneth Tam exhibit, and an exhibit which shows what nightlife was like in the 18th century. Plus, admission into the museum is free.

3. Science Museum of Minnesota

Another 20 minute drive outside Minneapolis is the Science Museum of Minnesota in Saint Paul. Here you can check out Omnitheater films like The Magic of Flight, Journey Into Amazing Caves, and Jane Goodall’s Wild Chimpanzees. You can also visit the museum’s multiple exhibits like their Native American Exhibit, Dinosaurs & Fossils, and RACE: Are We So Different? Bring the kids and let them energize their minds.

4. Wild Mountain

If you and the family are looking to get some ski time in and don’t mind a bit of a drive, head to Wild Mountain about an hour outside Minneapolis in Taylors Falls. Here you can purchase daily lift tickets, rent skis or snowboards, or even take ski or snowboard lessons.

5. Cathedral of Saint Paul

Those into architecture will definitely want to visit the Cathedral of Saint Paul. Built in 1915 and styled after cathedrals built during the Renaissance, the Cathedral of Saint Paul boasts beautiful domed ceilings, religious murals, and ornate stained glass windows. Visitors can walk around and take photos and be inspired by the remarkable craftsmanship.

6. The Minnesota Zoo

Everyone loves the Minnesota Zoo. [Editor’s note: I was born and raised in Minnesota, and the Minnesota Zoo was hands down my favorite place.] The establishment is really dedicated to preserving wildlife and ecosystems. And there are plenty of animals to meet! This place is awesome if you brought your family to Minnesota, or even for you and your friends. The zoo is located in Apple Valley, which is south of Minneapolis (you’ll need a rental car).

7. Historic Downtown

This is a very low-key part of Minnesota. I mean, all of Minnesota is fairly low-key, if we’re being honest. Anyway. If you’re wanting to go clubbing, this might not be the best place for you. Antique shops? Cute diners? Boutiques? This part of town was built right along the river, so grab a sandwich and some coffee and relax by the water. Historic Downtown (not to be confused with Downtown Minneapolis) is in Hastings, which is south-east of Minneapolis.

8. Al’s Breakfast

This diner is iconic (one Yelper called it “legendary”) and known for it’s…not-so-nice service. But it’s all part of the experience! Located in Dinkytown, Al’s serves the best breakfast and brunch in the state. It’s cash only, so be sure to stop at an ATM before you go order yourselves some breakfast…like this STRAWBERRY CHEESECAKE FRENCH TOAST:

9. Lake Harriet

Look, if you’re visiting the Land of 1,000 Lakes, you should totally check out a lake. And Lake Harriet, located in South East Minneapolis, is gorgeous. Sometimes, there are even free concerts playing, and there’s plenty of cafes and coffee shops around. If you’re up for it, you can even rent a bike and do some cycling around the area.

Enjoy your stay in Minnesota! While you’re not rooting for you team, go out and see what the state has to offer. You certainly won’t be disappointed.